A Boy Becomes A Man

I have a friend getting married soon and his best man is somewhat languidly planning his bachelor party. At this time, it looks like a pretty small group of guys going out for some drinks. I’ll probably be in bed by 10.

And I’m OK with that.

The first bachelor party that I ever attended was one of my brother’s best friends from our neighborhood. I’m guessing that I might have been somewhere around 18, so this places it in the very early ’80s.

Clearly by this time, Al Gore had already invented the internet, but Tim Berners-Lee had not yet enslaved the world with his hypnotic zombie software, so there was no way to seamlessly move from the word hirsute to explicit pornography, alas (this is a very inside joke that I may or may not write about in the future).

You had to go old school. This was a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend-who-had-a-dirty-movie technique. Somehow, some way, some where, someone had managed to procure what was then called ‘stag’ films.

Hard liquor has been drunk. My brother has created a ball and chain out of a really thick bicycle chain and a bowling ball. The lucky groom-to-be has been tackled and the ball and chain has been padlocked to his leg using a bicycle lock. He spends the rest of the night somewhat glumly drinking and holding the bowling ball in his free hand.

The time comes. Someone, God knows how (I’m guessing broke into the local elementary school), has acquired a Super 8 projector. The film (and it is a roll of film, not a DVD, not a VHS, but an honest to God reel of film) is presented to the party in much the same manner as I imagined Moses presented to his people the 10 commandments.

The room goes quiet with awe. There is no screen. The film is shown against a white wall in a bedroom. This is a small bedroom. There are probably somewhere around a dozen males, most in their early 20’s, crowded into the room, anxiously awaiting this moment.

The film is spooled onto the projector. With a great clacking noise, the projector begins to play. Of course, it starts off horribly out of focus. Amidst many frenzied, anguished shouts of “Focus!”, the adjustment is rapidly made with trembling fingers.

A couple of comments:

  • The film is approximately 5 minutes long.
  • It is black and white.
  • Judging by the actor’s appearance, the film was first made sometime in the 60’s. How many bachelor parties have had their crowning moment be this very film?
  • Very conventional sexual activity takes place. The wildest scene involves a shower. I don’t even know what hirsute pornography is, but nothing even remotely like that takes place here.

There is no sound. Helpfully, the director of the film decides that an acceptable workaround are title cards. There will be some sexual activity followed by a title card that says “oh!…oh!…oh!…oh!” or “How do you like that, baby?!” (and no, I am not making that up…we’re talking the rarely executed Jenna Jameson / Buster Keaton mash-up). The entire time that the film is rolling, the only sound in the room is…clack, clack, clack.

After the apparently mandated by federal law shot of a man conclusively proving that yes, he has been satisfied (followed immediately by a title card that says “Ahhhhh!”), the film ends.

In the room, there is a hush, followed by nervous laughter, followed by a few nervously executed jokes, at which point, feeling communally slightly dirty, everyone heads back to the kitchen where the alcohol is and the party proceeds in earnest again.

So, yes, you can talk about the miracles of Amazon and Google, but at the end of the day, it’s the porn industry that truly has blazed the internet trail. In so doing, it has fundamentally changed our culture in ways that probably have not yet even begun to be imagined.


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